Knyvet, Edmund (DNB00)

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KNYVET or KNEVET, Sir EDMUND (d. 1546), sergeant-porter to Henry VIII, was the second son of Edmund Knyvet of Buckenham Castle, Norfolk, by his wife Eleanor, sister of Sir James Tyrrell, knt. Sir Thomas Knyvet [q. v.] was his elder brother. One Edmund Knevet was grand-nephew of the mother of Dean Colet; he is believed to be the ‘Edmund’ who received religious instruction from the dean and was a legatee under Colet's will in 1519 [see Colet, John]. The sergeant-porter married Joan, daughter and heiress of John Bourchier, lord Berners [q. v.], and thus came into possession of Ashwellthorpe, Norfolk. In 1524 Knyvet is mentioned as sergeant of the king's gates, and in 1536 was made in addition keeper of the king's woods in Rockingham Forest. He was also receiver of the revenues of the royal domains in Denbigh, North Wales. Numerous grants of land were made him by Henry VIII. Early in 1541 Knyvet struck Thomas Clere, a Norfolk gentleman, and retainer and friend of the Earl of Surrey, so as to draw blood within the tennis-court of the king's house. A recent statute had adjudged the penalty of losing the right hand to any one guilty of such an offence. At first both Knyvet and Clere were arraigned on 28 Feb. 1541, and bound in a recognisance of five hundred marks each to attend the privy council daily till dismissed. On 27 April they were formally accused and were committed to the porter's ward to await trial. On 10 June Knyvet was arraigned before the king's justices at Greenwich, and found guilty by a quest of gentlemen and a quest of yeomen of maliciously striking Clere. He was condemned to lose his right hand, and there is a detailed account in Stow's ‘Annals,’ p. 581, of all the different household officials required to assist in what was evidently a new form of punishment. The assistants include the master cook for the king with the knife, the sergeant of the larder to set the knife right in the joint, the sergeant of the poultry with a cock, its head to be smitten off on the same block and by the same knife to be used for the criminal's hand, finally the sergeant of the cellar with ale and beer. All being ready, Knyvet was brought out, and after humbly confessing his guilt begged that the left instead of the right hand might be taken. ‘For,’ quoth he, ‘if my right hand be spared I may hereafter do such good service to his grace as shall please him to appoint.’ The justices, pleased by this submission, interceded with Henry VIII, who, ‘moved by the gentle heart of the said Edmund and the good report of lords and ladies,’ granted him a free pardon. Knevet died on 1 May 1546, and was buried in Ashwellthorpe Church, in a chapel adjoining the chancel; the inscription on his tomb is given in Weever's ‘Funerall Monuments,’ p. 815. His widow survived him till 17 Feb. 1561, and was also buried at Ashwellthorpe. Their son John, born, it is said, in 1524, died before his mother, and by his wife Agnes, daughter of Sir John Harcourt of Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire, was father of Sir Thomas Knyvet (d. 9 Feb. 1616–1617), who unsuccessfully claimed the title of Lord Berners. The signature ‘E. K.’ attached to poems in a manuscript collection preserved in the British Museum (Addit. MS. 17492) is explained as that of Knyvet; the principal contributors to the collection are Wyatt and Sir Thomas Howard.

[Holinshed, iii. 953; Dugdale's Baronage, ii. 424; Nichols's Proceedings of the Privy Council; Cobbett's State Trials, i. 443; Blomefield's Norfolk, i. 379; Cal. of State Papers; Le Neve's Pedigrees of Knights, p. 21; Notes and Queries, 6th ser. v. x. 269, 379, 477; Lupton's Life of Colet.]

E. T. B.